3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Office Supply Budget

Bring buying to the next level with these tips.

Getting the most value out of the office supply budget starts with making good purchase decisions, but it doesn't end there. If you make a habit of all three of the following tactics, you should find it easier to stay within spending guidelines. You may even have enough left at month's end to suggest that your boss spring for a team pizza with the savings!

1. Identify your best suppliers for quicker bargain-hunting

  • If you can consolidate most of your buying with one vendor — and build closer ties with one account rep — you can save time and money. Some suppliers offer tailored reports on your buying history that can help you spot places to trim costs, and an account rep who knows the value of your business will work harder to make you happy.
  • If your style is to comparison shop, consider limiting yourself to three trusted vendors. Focusing on only your top three options gives you the flexibility to look for deals while keeping your purchasing process streamlined.

2. Control and track your inventory

  • Consolidate your supplies in one place and politely remind your co-workers to use only what they need. Some office managers leave a sign-out sheet; even if co-workers neglect to note what they've taken, the sheet reminds them that someone is keeping track. In some workplaces, it makes sense to lock up supplies so colleagues have to ask for what they need. Just remember to distribute keys to several people, so your co-workers can get what they need when you're not available.
  • Vendor services often provide inventory-tracking sheets that detail your buying history with them — compare those purchasing sheets against what is left in stock, and use that information to make smarter buying decisions. Tracking helps you see that the popular gel pens go quickly, so you might buy them in bulk for a better deal. But when those neon-green sticky notes have been sitting untouched for a year, you can move them out — and strike them from your reorder list.

3. Reduce wastefulness (with a bonus win for the environment)

  • Office printing can be a good place to reduce waste. Aim to purchase printers that support double-sided printing to cut down on paper used. Have both black and white and color printers available on the network so that people use the pricier colored inks only when necessary.
  • When you notice wasted resources, try to fix the root cause. If the company's latest promotional mailing to customers resulted in 25 envelopes returned as undeliverable, for example, try to prune the mailing list to eliminate those bad addresses. If you're constantly restocking disposable cups in the breakroom, invest in reusable glasses and coffee mugs instead.